With so many things to do besides ride your motorcycle during Bike Week, its nice to see people actually taking advantage of the warm southern climate of Daytona.
Last Saturday, Bike Week got off to a cold and wet start. A frontal system passing over Florida bringing rain, wind and colder temperatures was not what motorcycle enthusiasts traveled to the Daytona Beach area were hoping to experience. Firewood was selling fast from the back of a pick-up truck that circled the Cabbage Patch camping area at regular intervals. Sunday brought warmer and much drier weather after the rains of Saturday night had cleared. The festivities were about to get into full swing.
With the Florida motorcycle event area growing to a county-wide affair it is hard to report the exact number of bikers and motorcycle enthusiasts that have converged on the area for Bike Week 2007. Indicators around the city pointed towards another low number of visitors. Some of the most conspicuous evidence is the hotel vacancy signs lit along the Daytona Beach portion of Highway A1A, while the north side of the county into the Ormond Beach area seemed to be full. During one of our rides on the Volusia County scenic route known as "the loop," I spotted three people that had traffic-counting computers, so we may get a more efficient count at the end of the week.
Judging by the traffic and crowds at the newly opened Destination Daytona Harley-Davidson in Ormond Beach, it would appear that this year's motorcycle event was huge. The movement of the big names in the motorcycle industry to the north of the Daytona area drew more attention this year than the past. Corbin, well known manufacturer of motorcycle seats, saddles and accessories, has abandoned the Daytona Main Street location to make space for T-Shirt and vendor shops, electing to open a new location on US 1 in Ormond Beach. Most of the large Daytona biker bars have followed suit and opened a more northern location or in some cases moved on entirely.
What is it about low-slung, chromed-out spine-tingling customs like this makes adults want to morgage their homes and spend their kid's college money so bad? Oh yeah. Chicks dig 'em.
The Daytona Police had made it clear that they planned on enforcing the noise level law during the 2007 event, and many bikers were saying that they would be avoiding the Main Street scene because of the warning. I did not see a strong enforcement of the ordinance, but I did witness one cop signal a biker over on Main Street to write a ticket. The guy pretty much asked for it by revving his engine and drawing attention to himself. I have heard plenty of louder pipes on the street, but they were just riding at normal speed and sat at idle when stopped so as not to draw attention to themselves. Not this guy though. I doubt this is the interest he was seeking.
I visited the Daytona International Speedway where the International Bike Builder's Row was set up inside the track. I got there early, around 8:30, so the crowd was light and I found it easy to see the custom motorcycles on display built by some of the top names in the industry. It was no problem to walk up and spend a few moments talking with builder Eddie Trotta during this time of the day, but walking through all of the manufacturer's displays on the front side of the Speedway, I noticed that there were more people arriving. The traffic on International Speedway Blvd., the Daytona main drag, was beginning to build, so I made a move to get back on the road to see more of the town before traffic slowed to a crawl as it usually does in the afternoon. By the time I arrived to the beach-side area, parking was gone for the day.
By Wednesday the weather was back to a norm for Central Florida, so I knew that the Cabbage Patch Bar was going to fill up early for the annual coleslaw wrestling event, which is now held on Wednesday and Saturday during Bike Week. Cabbage Patch Bar owner Ronnie Luznar recognizes that his event has truly started to become an institution during Bike Week so packed the morning hours with fun and surprises for the crowd that included a World War II plane formation fly-over and four skydivers jumping out of a military helicopter before the wrestling began. Lunzar made an announcement to the crowd of bikers thanking the motorcycle community for making Bike Week a continuing success and then tossed T-shirts into the crowd to get the revelers fired up even further.
Despite the fly-over, skydivers and tractor pulls the heart of the Cabbage Patch is good old-fashioned cole slaw wrestling action like you see here. Ain't America grand?
The event was slow to start, but soon had 16 contestants of women willing to jump into a pit filled with shredded cabbage and vegetable oil for a shot at the $500 first prize. When the slaw had settled it was won by last year's 135-lb winner, 38-year-old Angela Kosobud of Waynesboro, Ga. Who took home the booty.
As the sun began to set, people were still lined up along the fence that surrounds the event area talking about what had happened and making plans for the next day of Bike Week. Make sure to take a peek in the photo gallery for a glimpse at Bike Week 2007 and check back later for more updates from Daytona International Speedway and more Bike Week debauchery from around town.
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